Elle King Reveals Personal Struggles Behind Drunken Dolly Parton Tribute Debacle


Elle King recently revealed the personal struggles that led to her infamous drunken performance at Dolly Parton’s birthday tribute at the Grand Ole Opry. This candid disclosure came during her appearance on Chelsea Handler’s “Dear Chelsea” podcast, marking the first time King has publicly discussed the incident. The singer’s vulnerability offers insight into the pressures faced by public figures and underscores the importance of mental health awareness.

Elle King Reveals Personal Struggles
Elle King Reveals Personal Struggles

The Incident at the Grand Ole Opry

The Performance

On January 19, Elle King performed at the Grand Ole Opry for a tribute to country music icon Dolly Parton. What was meant to be a celebration turned into a controversial moment when King, visibly intoxicated, cussed on stage during her performance of “Jolene.” This behavior, especially given the occasion, led to significant backlash on social media.

The Backstory

In her podcast interview, King shared that she had been dealing with severe personal issues at the time. She described the days leading up to the performance as particularly challenging, stating she hadn’t “eaten or slept in days” due to overwhelming stress and severe PTSD.

“I had been going through something very heavy and traumatic in my life at the time,” King explained. “That day was a really big day dealing with what I was going through — and that I’m still going through.”

The Day of the Performance

King recounted that there was a “big snowstorm” on the day of the performance, which added to the chaos. The original headliner was canceled just three hours before the show, and King was asked to step in as the headliner. Despite managing a perfect first performance, King’s nerves got the better of her during the second set after she took “one shot too many.”

“I was not there in my body,” King admitted. She blacked out on stage and didn’t remember what she said until the video went viral.

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Aftermath and Apology

The aftermath of the incident left King devastated. She described waking up the next day to find the video of her performance everywhere and feeling “mortified.” King took immediate action to apologize, writing hand-written letters to both the Grand Ole Opry and Dolly Parton.

Dolly Parton’s Response

Dolly Parton’s response to the incident was nothing short of compassionate. King shared that Parton called her a few days later, offering kind words and reassurance. “She just gave me kind words and told me, ‘Well, Dolly’s not mad. She watched you be a human being’ and made me laugh,” King recalled.

Lessons Learned and Moving Forward

Taking Responsibility

King has taken full responsibility for her actions and has learned from the experience. She now abstains from drinking before performances, which she believes has led to the best shows of her career. “Now I don’t drink before I go onstage and they’re the best shows I’ve ever played,” she stated.

Coping and Growth

Following the incident, King took some time to herself to cope and reflect. Despite the harsh criticism and the extreme backlash, including harmful messages telling her to harm herself, she chose to focus on the support and love from her fans.

“To everyone sending me love because I’m human and already talked to Dolly, I love you. To everyone who told me to k*ll myself I love you too,” she wrote on social media.

Importance of Mental Health

King’s story highlights the critical importance of mental health awareness and the pressures artists face. Her transparency about her struggles with PTSD and the impact of not taking care of herself physically and emotionally serves as a reminder of the humanity behind public personas.

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